Archives for posts with tag: French

Two Days One Night

Deux Jours, Une Nuit is a dreary and mundane French “art” film directed by Belgium’s Dardenne brothers. Marion Cotillard, whom American audiences may remember as the femme fatale Miranda in The Dark Knight Rises, stars as Sandra, a working mother whose poor psychological health has kept her at home and away from her job for some time. In her absence, her boss has given her coworkers an offer they find hard to refuse: either take Sandra back at their present wage rate, or agree to terminate her in exchange for a raise for everyone else. Due to irregularities in the circumstances of their initial decision, which has (unsurprisingly) gone against her, the workers are to be given a chance to hold a second vote. Sandra now has one weekend – the two days and one night of the title – to locate and approach each of her coworkers to convince them to take her back and forfeit the promised raise.

Nothing about Sandra, who suffers from depression and spends most of the movie moping, despairing, and gobbling Xanax tablets, is particularly interesting, and one suspects that this is intentional; she stands for the common person who is too often forgotten. Scenes of her intermittently breaking down and being encouraged by her sensitive husband (Fabrizio Rongione) to persevere and not to give up on her peers and their dormant capacity for selflessness are, unfortunately, somewhat repetitive, and not the strongest material to support an entire feature film. What ultimately saves and elevates Two Days, One Night above the level of tedium is the earnestness of the film’s key performances.

[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]

3.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Two Days, One Night is:

6. Anti-American. The selfish Julien (Laurent Caron), a collaborationist co-conspirator with the workplace management, wears a “USA” patch on his shirt, perhaps signifying his sympathy with neoliberalism.

5. Anti-marriage. Sandra’s coworker Anne (Christelle Cornil) determines to leave her husband after years of being bullied.

4. Anti-drug. Sandra’s abuse of Xanax is worrying to her husband, whose concerns are shown to be warranted when she attempts suicide with an overdose.

3. Pro-union. The filmmakers, in an interview featured on the Criterion Blu-ray, say that their intent was to illustrate the “savagery” of companies whose workforces are not unionized. “We thought that with a nonunion company, we’d be closer to the raw truth of the social situation people experience today.”

2. Ostensibly anti-capitalistic, with workers pitted against each other by capital.

1. Dysgenic, pro-immigration, and crypto-corporate. Two Days, One Night is fundamentally disingenuous and misleading in framing the plight of the western worker as an individual rather than a national-racial dilemma. People are, of course, individuals on one level of their experience; but the inundation of European and European-descended peoples with Third World undesirables is precisely what has suppressed the typical worker’s wages and standard of living. In the end, when the tables are turned, and Sandra has the option of taking her job back on the stipulation that Alphonse (Serge Koto), an African, will be terminated, viewers are expected to be inspired that Sandra, playing the good goy, makes the wrong decision and sacrifices her own livelihood to save the congoid. Two Days, One Night goes out of its way to depict non-white immigrants as gentle, helpful souls and credits to their new communities, and even includes an African doctor (Tom Adjibi) who saves Sandra’s life after her overdose. To this extent, then, the film promotes a de facto corporate-state agenda.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

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Shoah“It’s a gas!” – Reichsfuhrer-SS Heinrich Himmler

As of writing, your humble reviewer has waded his way through discs one and two of the Criterion Collection’s 6-disc DVD release of Claude Lanzmann’s 9.5-hour Shoah (1985), which purports to tell the true story of the “Holocaust” of six million Jews through the testimonies of survivors, eyewitnesses, and participants, all adding up to a “fiction of the real”, as Lanzmann himself put it.

Claude Lanzmann 2Lanzmann scheming

Lanzmann, a French Zionist, communist, and personal messenger for Mao Zedong who interviewed movie stars for French magazines in the 60s, had during the 50s been, with “with [mentor Jean-Paul] Sartre’s blessing – Beauvoir’s lover, ‘the only man with whom [feminist lowlife] Simone de Beauvoir lived a quasi-marital existence’.” According to Beauvoir in her memoir, Lanzmann’s “rancour with respect to the goys never went away.” Shoah, if nothing else, is certainly evidence of that. Beauvoir also says that the wayward, paranoid, and tantrum-prone Lanzmann would sometimes wake from nightmares screaming “You’re all Kapos!”

Claude LanzmannLanzmann in uniform

Shoah plays like this man’s smirking, smoldering, self-absorbed, joyous, and seemingly interminable slow-motion nightmare. To watch it is to experience intermittent boredom and fascination, as sluggishly panning shots of fields and roads intermingle with alternately colorful or mundane interviews.

SrebnikSimon Srebnik looking forlorn for the camera

The first pitiful Jew viewers are offered for adoration is shifty-eyed Simon Srebnik, who claims to have seen fire shooting from death camp chimneys into the sky. “I dreamed, too, that if I survived, I’d be the only one left in the whole world,” Srebnik (obviously enjoying the attention) remembers fantasizing.

Then there is the idiotically grinning Michael Podchlebnik, whose clear giddiness at being filmed for a movie prompts Lanzmann to ask why he is smiling. Fortunately for the sake of Shoah‘s credibility, Podchlebnik has found his motivation for the next segment in which he is featured and manages to work himself up into a pretty good cry. Other survivors follow, none of them particularly compelling. One claims to have seen a wall of rainbow-colored flame erupt on the occasion of the first mass incineration. Another says water gushed up from a pit to seize the bodies dumped into it.

PodchlebnikMichael Podchlebnik, movie star

The best parts of Shoah are Lanzmann’s interviews with common Poles who lived in the vicinity of railways, camps, and “gas van” operations. What is so refreshing about these people, who come across as lovable, Slavic rednecks, is their earthiness, their unstudied eccentricity, and the obvious fact that most neglect to take the “Holocaust” very seriously.

Poles

Polish “Holocaust” witnesses – possibly inebriated

“Above all, they were dishonest,” one Pole reports of his old Jewish neighbors. Laughing women recall that their men enjoyed chasing the beautiful, idle Jewesses, but another interviewee opines that the Jews were unattractive. Lanzmann, meanwhile, constantly prods them, trying to get anybody and everybody to admit that the Polish people do not really lament the extermination of the Jews and in fact benefited from it because they were then able to move into the houses of the deceased and so up the social ladder.

PoleJews smelled bad, says this Pole

Lanzmann’s anti-Christian agenda becomes overt in the portion of Shoah comprising disc two of the Criterion release. He arranges, for instance, to interrogate a gaggle of Chelmno Poles in front of a church in which Jews were once corralled, but chooses the day of a Catholic festival for his interview, so that reminiscences of Jewish internment and theft of valuables are juxtaposed and interrupted by a devout procession with icons.

HilbergRaul Hilberg doing his Raul Hilberg impression

Anti-gentile historian Raul Hilberg, author of The Destruction of the European Jews, is also interviewed and voices his view that the “Holocaust” is only the culmination of a festering anti-Semitism present in Europe and Christendom for a thousand years or more. It was “a logical progression” of Christianity toward “closure” of the Jewish question, Hilberg explains.

Hilberg, to his credit, acknowledges that no paper trail exists for a “Final Solution” as that term is generally interpreted by mainstream (i.e., corporate, Zionist-subsidized) historians and that “one cannot find a specific document, a specific plan, outline, or blueprint which states, now the Jews will be killed.” He goes on, “Everything is left to inference from general words. General wording [. . .] leaves something to the bureaucrat that he must infer.” Orders-by-inference would seem to be a novel, unorthodox, and unreliable protocol for an operation calling for military discipline, but Nazis, Hilberg gives the viewer to understand, work in mysterious ways.

Shoah coverEpic dullness in high-def

Lanzmann’s Shoah is the ultimate slog, with Pauline Kael rightly describing the documentary as one “long moan” in her assessment. Rewarding as time spent among the affable Polish villagers can be, much of the remainder (at least, based on this reviewer’s experience of the first two discs) is tedium defined. Typical of Lanzmann’s style are long panning shots over empty expanses, desolate fields and forests, ratty houses, lonely roads, snowdrifts, etc. One shot pointlessly follows a van on a road for about a minute, followed by a shot of the van boringly parking, after which the camera slowly zooms in on the stationary van – revealed to be the director’s high-tech detection Shoahmobile!

One wonders at times if the sinister intention of all this monotony is not to lull the unsuspecting viewer into a dulled, semi-conscious state of susceptibility to the Zionist propaganda. Only the contents of the next four (ugh) discs will tell.

[Read this reviewer’s further reflections on Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah here.]

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